Lazer Jackal KinetiCore Helmet Review

LAZER JACKAL KINETICORE HELMET REVIEW

Review by Robert Johnston
Photos by Rupert Fowler/Mirror Media – Mountain Bike Connection Winter 

I (Robert, European Tech Editor) had the good fortune to make the journey to Massa Marittima in Tuscany, Italy, for the Bike Connection Agency Mountain Bike Connection 2022 event in February. During this time, I met with a bunch of cool and interesting European companies to learn more about their product ranges and managed to get a small sample of trail time on board most of them to report back with my initial impressions.

Next up is Lazer, who had a very interesting helmet technology to present to the media at the event. There’s few things more exciting to me than new tech, but for the last few years there’s been seemingly less innovation in the helmet market, as rotational impact protection has been dominated by MIPS who essentially created the market and have made it easy for helmet manufacturers to tick that box. Thankfully, behind the scenes, companies are still working away to develop the ultimate in protection for your head, and Lazer has been no exception. With the release of their KinetiCore technology, Lazer has presented their own system for the reduction of rotational brain injuries which can be the most harmful, by integrating “controlled crumple zones” in the EPS protective foam. This achieves a similar rotational translation between helmet and head in a crash, whilst reducing the weight and offering more space for air to pass through and cool the head. We received their top-tier Jackal KinetiCore mountain bike helmet to put to the test in the Italian sun, followed by some home laps in the typical varied conditions of Spring in the UK.

Lazer Jackal KinetiCore Helmet Review

THE LAB
The Lazer Jackal KinetiCore features their brand-new protection technology, KinetiCore, which you can learn more about here. Blocks of EPS foam are designed to buckle in a crash and reduce the linear and rotational forces on the brain, taking inspiration from the crumple zones in motor vehicles. By integrating this system into the EPS and designing each helmet from the ground-up with the technology, the airflow and weight can be optimized without compromising the protection on offer, and there’s no extra plastics added. This lets the total helmet weigh in at 340g for a medium size, which is 50g less than the MIPS-equipped Jackal model that Lazer will continue to offer. Lazer is keen to point out the environmental benefits of the KinetiCore tech too, with all the weight lost being in plastics.

The Jackal has been the flagship open-shell mountain bike in Lazer’s lineup for the last couple of years. With the development of the new KinetiCore technology, it made sense to take their already well-performing Jackal base and work in the new tech. Maintained from the Jackal MIPS are the wrap-around polycarbonate shell to cover the EPS and protect it from damage; magnetic chin strap buckle for easy one-handed operation; integrated action camera mount for the top of the helmet, and adjustable visor to tailor the sun blocking properties and allow for goggle stowage below.

The ventilation has been tailored to aid goggle wearers by funneling some air down through the brow vent to help keep them fog-free, and there’s a discrete rubber patch on the rear to help to grip onto a goggle strap. Glasses wearers haven’t been forgotten either, with channels in the EPS foam to ensure the legs of the glasses don’t foul on the helmet. On the back of the helmet is a highly adjustable cradle, with a large range of vertical movement to find the optimum position on the occipital region of your skull. This cradle features Lazer’s TurnFit retention dial, which is designed to produce clearly audible “clicks” as it’s adjusted. The padding inside the helmet is quite minimal, with a thin strip across the forehead and temples, and a wider strip over the top of the head. This padding features the typical X-Static treatment to keep it fresher for longer.

The Lazer Jackal KinetiCore is available in sizes small through to extra-large, with a weight range of 330-430g. Lazer offers a choice of 8 colors, all of which retail for $219.99/ €189.99.

Lazer Jackal KinetiCore Helmet Review

THE DIRT
From the get-go the Jackal produced a nice environment for my head. The highly adjustable cradle at the back allows the dial mechanism to come far down the back of the head into the sweet spot of the occipital skull bone and really feel “locked in”. The ratchets on the dial are close enough together to get the fit at a comfortable tension too. Combined with some thin but cushy padding, the Jackal is a very secure and comfortable helmet, making its light weight (for the class) feel even lighter on the head. Adjusting the straps around the ears is simple, and the magnetic buckle makes life easy, especially when you’re gloved.

The designed-in eyewear channels did a great job with thinner glasses legs, but those with thicker portions at the tip of the legs could still foul around the back of the ear. I was borderline with some models, but always managed to find a comfortable spot to have everything resting. I’m not about the open face and goggles combo these days, but the gripper portion on the back proved to keep a set of Melon goggles stuck fast in some frankly horrific conditions, so it clearly does no harm, and the looks blend into the helmet nicely.

Lazer Jackal KinetiCore Helmet Review

Compared with other helmets in the category, the Jackal KinetiCore breathes very well, with notable air movement over the head at all speeds. To the point that I’d go out and say it’s the most breathable aggressive mountain lid I’m yet to put my head in. That said, the helmet doesn’t wrap quite as far down the head as the likes of the TLD A3, so in terms of ultimate protection and feeling of safety, it doesn’t inspire quite so much confidence. That’s not to say it’s not as protective – the 5-star Virginia Tech rating suggests it’ll do a great job in a crash – but there’s one thing knowing a helmet is protective, and another trying to tell your brain that as you’re hurtling down a hill.

I typically keep myself off of roads when riding but did set up the light on the rear to ensure it performed adequately. I fitted it, forgot to turn it on, and forgot it was there until it came time to take the helmet off, so I’d say they’ve done a stellar job at integrating it without compromising helmet performance. When I did remember to turn it on, the 40-lumen output was bright enough that it would likely catch the eye of a driver once dusk begins to settle in, but it’s not quite enough to help much during the day. Similarly, the Action Camera mount did the trick when mounting a GoPro up there, keeping it secure with no rattling, but I’m not a fan of a head cam either.

The screws that attach the peak to the helmet and give a bit of friction to keep it in the desired position came loose early on in the test, letting it move through hard compressions. This was remedied by removing the screws and adding some loctite, which is far from the end of the world but disappointing to see and something to be aware of before buying. Otherwise, there have been zero other issues, with the paintwork surviving general abuse without flinching, the padding continuing to offer cushion and resist smelling, and the dials and straps all feeling good as new. I’ve thankfully kept my head off the ground for the duration of testing and so can’t confirm that the KinetiCore tech works well anecdotally, but the Virginia Tech 5* rating gives me the necessary confidence to vouch for the safety. The price is certainly up there, in-line with the best of the competition, but Lazer has produced a protective and breathable lid with a good aesthetic, and features that can justify it.

The Wolf’s Last Word

Lazer’s new KinetiCore technology has clear benefits that translate to a top-class open face mountain bike helmet. Offering a secure fit, great ventilation and carrying the 5-star Virginia Tech safety score, I’m thoroughly impressed by the Jackal KinetiCore, and it’ll be my new go-to open face until something else can convince me otherwise.

Price: $219.99 / €189.99
Weight: 340 grams (Medium)
Website: Lazersport.com

We Dig

Smart new KinetiCore tech
Light weight
Great ventilation
Great fit

We Don’t

Visor Bolts coming Loose

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